In May 2013 I attended a HubSpot webinar hosted by Marcus Sheridan, the former owner of a Virginia-based in-ground pool company and now a TED speaker and content marketing specialist. The webinar, titled “The Honest Economy & Instructional Selling,” centered on Mr. Sheridan’s story about how trying to make payroll when the economy tanked in 2008 shifted his marketing strategy forever.
With homeowners suddenly upside down on their mortgages and skittish about luxury purchases, he had to do something drastic to see his pool company through the recession. He and his partners started a blog full of honest answers to every question they’d ever received from prospects — even laying bare the negative aspects of their products.
By adding this educational value to their website, they were able to cut their annual $250,000 marketing budget by 90% and generate over $2,000,000 in sales. The idea that transparent, educational content could yield results like that fundamentally changed my view of marketing, and the line that pulled it all together was “be the Wikipedia of your industry.”
I don’t know about you, but when I go to Google with a question, I often trust that the Wikipedia link at the top of the search results page has an answer more reliable than many of the links below it.
Google knows this is how its users have come to rely on search results, so their algorithm has adjusted over the years to place more emphasis on learning-based websites (Wikipedia) and blog posts that answer questions in great detail.
Wouldn’t you love to be that link, at the top of the Google search results page — maybe even above Wikipedia! — that answered your ideal buyers’ burning questions? You know your business best, and you’re most qualified to write about it, so what’s stopping you?
- I’m afraid of the competition stealing my ideas!
Guess what: if you don’t have a killer (mobile-friendly) website and blog, they think you’re small time and they’re not even paying attention to you.
- I have nothing to blog about!
Sure you do: make a list of every question a prospect or client has asked you in the last month, and answer every one of them in the form of a blog post
- I’m not a good writer!
You don’t need to be: there are several online networks where you can shop a blog post idea and professional writers will do the work for you. With services like Zerys and WritersAccess, you only pay for a post if you like what their freelancers produce (and it’s usually really good stuff).
- I don’t have time for any of this stuff!
Hire a marketing agency and invest in some marketing automation software. It’s not as expensive as you’d think, and it’s much cheaper than hiring a Marketing Department with full-time benefits.
- Blogs are stupid, fluffy diary nonsense!
I’m glad you brought this one up: what if you called your blog a “learning center” instead? Marcus Sheridan wrote a great argument for learning centers versus blogs recently. A learning center is definitely a step toward Wikipedianess!
When I saw Mr. Sheridan at the Inbound ’13 conference, I made a point of introducing myself and telling him how that one webinar changed my life. It’s one of the reasons I became a HubSpot partner. Here’s the inspirational talk he gave a few minutes later:
“Always be Helping” … the world would be a better place if every business had that mindset. So, what do you think about blogging or creating a “learning center” for your website? Contact me and let’s talk about it!